When it comes to losing weight, the most important factor is your calorie balance. You need to eat less calories than you burn to drop pounds. Incorporating some sort of fasting protocol into your diet may be beneficial, too, as this helps reduce your calorie intake. However, if you're not ready for a full-on fast, you could try drinking protein shakes during your fasting periods to reduce hunger pangs.
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Every Other Day
One of the most popular forms of fasting is alternate-day fasting, according to dietitian Juliette Kellow in an article on the weightlossresources.co.uk website. This involves eating as you would normally one day, followed by a very low-calorie day the next. During this low-calorie, or fast day, Kellow suggests eating small amounts of nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, along with proteins like lean red meat, fish and poultry. You could, however, substitute these proteins with a protein shake.
The Macros Matter
The macronutrients include protein, carbohydrate and fat. When looking for a shake to use for your fasting protocol, you need to pick one that's high in protein, but low in carbohydrates and fat. Dr. Michael Mosley, creator of the Fast Diet, recommends that on fasting days, women eat 500 calories and men eat 600 calories. Whatever shake you choose needs to be low enough in calories that it won't push you over your calorie limit.
The Post-Fast Meal
When you finish your fasting or low-calorie period, it's likely that you'll be hungry, which can lead to binging or over-indulging, sending your weight loss off course. The Harvard Medical Publications website recommends eating protein at breakfast to curb your appetite for the rest of the day -- and the same theory applies when breaking a fast at any time. Include a protein shake in your post-fast meal to help ensure that you don't overdo your calorie intake for the rest of the day.
Not So Fast
Before switching to a fasting diet, or introducing new supplements into your diet, check with your doctor or a dietitian. You don't need to fast to lose weight, or even include protein shakes in your diet, but both could potentially be beneficial. According to a study published in the July 2005 edition of "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," while alternate-day fasting in non-obese subjects did increase fat oxidation, participants also experienced increased hunger on fasting days throughout the entire study. Therefore, having a shake or two on a fast day, perhaps with some other protein-dense foods, low-calorie vegetables or salad items, may enable you to get the benefits of fasting without the hunger pangs.
- Weight Loss Resources: Alternate Day Fasting Diet
- ABC News: The 'Fast Diet': Recipes From Dr. Michael Mosley
- Harvard Health Publications: Breaking the Fast
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Alternate-Day Fasting in Nonobese Subjects: Effects on Body Weight, Body Composition, and Energy Metabolism